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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  August 22, 2012 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT

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mitchell reports," the akin apology tour from conservative talk radio to the "today" show this morning, todd akin defends his decision to stay in e race. >> let me say that legitimate does not -- should not be in the context of rape at all. that's completely wrong. while i apologize for the misuse of that word, at the same time, i don't apologize for the fact that i'm strong in my belief of pro-life. >> and his friend and colleague, paul ryan, he co-sponsored a bill banning all abortions even in cases of rape. he's trying to distance himself. >> mitt romney is going to be the president. the president sets policy. his policy has exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother. i'm comfortable with it. good step in the right direction. >> that was paul ryan on the plane today. what role do the theories of anti-abortion leader dr. john wilke play in all this? the political fallout and the larger state of play. in our new nbc news/"wall
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street journal" poll, president obama holds a narrow four-point lead at 48% but why do pollsters think he still has an advantage over mitt romney going into the conventions? and pack hurricane gear. republicans aren't the only ones set to make waves in tampa next week. we've got the weather channel tracking isaac as the storm zeros in on florida. good day. i'm andrea mitchell live in washington. our new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll shows there is an advantage for president obama despite the public's deep continuing concerns over the economy and the direction the country is taking. there wasn't much of a ryan bump for the romney campaign, gaining just one point for the presidential race, but the administration is still staring down an ominous number for four more years, 6 in 10 americans still feel the country is on the wrong track. so how is president obama keeping his lead? nbc's senior political editor, mark murray, joins us now. this is such a fascinating poll. take us through it, because the president has this narrow lead,
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but he has a bigger advantage when our pollsters, both peter hart and no denial from our republican pollster, when they look at these data, they say advantage, obama. >> peter hart, our democratic pollster, put it this way. president obama has turned the race from a referendum into a choice. that's what an incumbent facing the type of head winds president obama is currently facing always wants to be. we saw scott walker in that recall turn it into a choice as well. it's more about mitt romney and things he has to work on heading into his convention next week. >> which of these poll numbers do you think are the most illustrative. the head-to-head, you've got the advantage. right track, wrong track, that's a big number. >> that's right. that's the head wind i was talking about for president obama. you have 6 in 10 who actually think the country is headed on the right track. never a good number for the incumbent.
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also when you look at the broad gauges of people's confidence about the economy, whether that kind of economic pessimism really seems to actually be hurting president obama, but then when you look at everything else in our poll right now, there are deep doubts and challenges that mitt romney has to encounter as well. >> what about the numbers in the poll which show that the president has this huge advantage when it comes to the gut questions, the questions about how you feel, about whether you care about the issues that most concern you? >> so poll went through a whole list and one of the questions was do you actually care about average people, who does a better job of that. barack obama beats mitt romney on that question by 22 percentage points. it's whopping. it's one of the things that mitt romney has to make the sale on going into his convention. you also end up looking at who actually is more likeable. president obama enjoys a 35 point lead there, too. so on those gut check questions,
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you see how president obama, despite these head winds, is currently leading and has the clear advantage heading into the conventions. >> and what about handling the economy, which is the biggest issue of all? >> mitt romney does end up holding an advantage there by six percentage points. he is actually seen as having better ideas for the economy. he also has a 6% point lead when it comes to who would actually be better changing washington. of course, somebody who doesn't have his handprints on the current economy, who isn't in washington right now, he has that advantage, but when we talk about president obama's double digit lead, 22 point lead, 35 point lead on the likability, cares more about average people, that's a bigger gap than what we even see on the economy questions. >> now, let's talk about todd akin. the poll, we are still in the field polling on the last day when the akin story was breaking so it's not really a fair summary here, but todd akin on "today" show explaining why he's not getting out.
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>> my message was one of standing on principle, not politics, and also on the principles that made america such a great nation. in spite of the fact that we were outspent by an extreme margin, the people of the state of missouri elected me, so this was a decision made by the citizens of our state and not by party bosses. >> of course, we saw that he went on talk radio, he was on with sean hannity and he explained to sean hannity, sean hannity was trying to explain to him, you know, you've got mitt romney, paul ryan called him as we reported on monday night, all of the missouri former senators and the current senator, and this was his response with sean hannity on the radio yesterday. >> if you were in romney's position, don't you think that he may have bit this thing up and made a bigger deal about it than he needed to? why couldn't he run his race and i run mine? >> so clearly, he's missed the first window to get out cleanly.
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he could still drop out by september 25th. he would have to go to court, it would have to be certified by the secretary of state in missouri, who is a very prominent democrat from a prominent democratic family. but that doesn't mean he could not still get out. >> all the indications are and all the sound you just played, he's not going away any time soon. he's actually not going to go down without a fight. i think one of the more extraordinary stories in all this is that todd akin broke no laws. he actually didn't send any lewd or naked photos of himself like we have seen other people in hot trouble with. the reason establishment republicans want him out of this race, they see he could end up losing and hurt republican chances in november, the chance to actually win back the senate, but in all for electability, not necessarily for something that he actually ended up doing as far as breaking a law. so this is uncharted territory for us and it has been fascinating, the speed to which republicans are calling him to leave. >> one quick thing. we have the nbc news/"wall
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street journal"/telemundo poll that shows a big, big advantage with hispanic americans but there is potential enthusiasm gap that the president has to deal with. >> two quick things. one, this is an oversample of 300 latino voters were polled on this. president obama maintains his big league, 63% to 28% over mitt romney with this group. but latinos more than any other demographic group, whether you're talking about young people, african-americans, republicans, democrats, isn't as enthusiastic and that's a potential problem. >> thank you very much, taking us through the numbers. congressman akin has apologized repeatedly for his weekend comments about rape. during the "today" show appearance, he apologized again but did not back down from his long-held principles about abortion. >> there is no rape that is legitimate. it's a heinous crime, one of the most serious, and i understand that the victims are harmed for a long time. i take that very seriously.
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but while i apologize for the misuse of that word, at the same time, i don't apologize for the fact that i am strong in my belief of pro-life and i believe that life should be defended and that life is something that's very special, totally central to what we think in our culture. >> joining me now is david brody, chief political correspondent for the christian broadcasting network. david, thank you very much for helping us to better understand the views that are more mainstream among the anti-abortion coalitions, and the views that might be outside the mainstream. let's talk, for instance, about dr. john wilke, who authored the article in 1999 which gave force to the view that women who are raped and who become pregnant from rape, women who are raped are less likely to become pregnant because they have some sort of natural bodily function that shuts down the ovulation
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process through trauma, and just this week, yesterday, he told the "new york times," the doctor did, this is a traumatic thing. she's, shall we say she's uptight, this is a woman who's been raped, adding she is frightened, tight and so on, and sperm if deposited in her vagina are less likely to be able to fertilize. the tubes are spastic. there is, we should quickly point out, no medical evidence of this. >> right. >> how widespread is the doctor's view? he was the long time leader, we saw him every year at those rallies, rallies that were addressed by president reagan, by microphone, telephone from the white house by george herbert walker bush, each of the presidents, republican presidents would address the right to life rally as it was called in january on the anniversary of roe v wade. >> he's definitely a voice within the pro-life community and an influential one at times.
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the reason i say at times, because if you actually go down the list of the family research council, concerned women for america, go down the list of those groups, there are going to be some that say yes, we know all about john willke and quite frankly, there will be others who say they are not as familiar or don't necessarily agree. it depends who you ask and depends what the organization is. so i think that's part of it. >> one of the reasons why this is so relevant, of course, is first of all, this could be the key senate race that could change who controls the senate. but there is a presidential election going on and obviously, paul ryan is a colleague, a friend, and a co-sponsor among many sponsors of what many call the personhood amendment, which was legislation that did not pass but would ban all abortions. as congressman ryan said today on the plane just now within the hour, mitt romney sets the policy, but paul ryan held to some of these same views, at least some of the same views about no exceptions. >> well, he did, and look, he's
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not really backing away from that necessarily, paul ryan isn't, and you know, the folks that believe in that personhood amendment aren't going to back away from that, either. i think what's interesting here is how this conversation is moving towards the fact that if you believe in an exception for rape when it comes -- or if you don't believe in an exception for rape when it comes to abortion, then all of a sudden you are labeled somehow really right wing extremist and though that is the minority position within the republican party, you know, those folks won't say it's extreme at all. they will say abortion is abortion, murder is murder, and if you're going to be principled, that's how they look at it. they think they're principled, not extreme at all. >> how do you see the political fallout of this? you know the party and you follow all this so closely. >> it's interesting because romney took pains to go out of his way to make sure he never talked about abortion. whether it be to me or to others. he just didn't want to have anything to do with it. here he is, having to talk about it. i think it's interesting because at some point, the optics of this are not going to look good for him because he will continue to say look, akin, you need to
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get out of the race and i am for an exception for rape and danger to the life of the mother and he will start to look, not that he is, he will start to look a little more moderate on the abortion position which would be wonderful for independent women. the problem is this is really a base election. he needs to turn out the base. so at some point, evangelical christians are going to go hey, wait a minute, all right, enough of the piling on from romney, mcconnell, all these guys, let's move on and there's a real danger there politically that this could be a major fall-back or problem for romney in the fall. >> one other thing here is that mitt romney in 2007 embraced dr. willke from their own press release. they said dr. willke is a leading voice within the pro-life community and will be an important surrogate for governor romney's pro-life and pro-family agenda. that was the mitt romney trying to disavow the massachusetts governor mitt romney and embrace the conservative wing of the party because on social issues, he felt obviously some vulnerability but he clearly embraced john willke. >> this is the problem with the
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whole akin situation. whether or not he stays in or gets out, the train has left the station that john willke quota tributed to the romney campaign or romney himself will come up, you can be sure, in a super pac ad or maybe a president obama campaign ad. it's already going to be in there. the script writers are hard at work. >> finally, the platform. the platform has been adopted. we know platforms are meant to be thrown out but the platform has the complete language which is no exceptions on the ban on abortion. it was adopted, will be adopted monday but it was adopted preliminarily by the platform committee last night. >> we have to check the final language but i don't believe the words rape, incest, danger to life of mother are actually in there. >> they're not in there but it's basically a human life amendment which is similar to the personhood language which has no exclusions. >> i would say this. let's just remember that human life amendment, it's been in the party platform for years and years. all of a sudden now it's taken
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on a much different dimension and it's a dimension that's palpable and a concern for the romney campaign. >> david brody, thank you very much. up next, tackling the biggest issue of president obama's campaign. and justice scalia in his own words. next week we're in tampa for the republican national convention, rain or shine. join us starting at 1:00 eastern. [ female announcer ] how do you define your moment?
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right now, watching live president obama in nevada, in rally. >> and she was a great teacher. she was full of curiosity and
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of enthusiasm and most importantly, she went that extra mile. now, fifth grade can be a tough time for a kid, and i was funny name and i had just come back from living a few years overseas with my mom, and wasn't sure how i fit in, and she noticed that. and she took me under her wing and she made me feel like i had something to say and that i had some talent, and she wasn't too obvious about it, but she made sure that during this transition year, i was able to steady myself and start focusing on my work. >> as the president addresses the crowd, he holds the lead, although mitt romney has an edge over president obama on improving the economy in our new nbc news/"wall street journal"
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poll. it is a consistent advantage for governor romney. patrick gaspar joins me now. great to see you. you worked in the obama white house so you're used to all of the tensions going through and up to this campaign but now, how does president obama overcome the continual drag, the right track/wrong track numbers are horrendous. governor romney has a better record in terms of the view of voters at being able to change washington and handle the economy. >> well, thank you for having me on. as far as the right track/wrong track is concerned, and the perception of governor romney's experience, if you look inside your own poll, it's pretty clear that average americans believe that barack obama is more on the side of middle class americans than mitt romney is. that's spelled out very clearly in your poll. it's also clear that americans believe that barack obama's views are more in the mainstream
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of american values and that mitt romney's are not. they are also quite concerned about the ways in which his tax policy and his proposed budget would benefit the richest americans to the detriment of middle class voters. so i would say that on whole, if the president were here now, he would say that he agrees with the respondents to the poll who are concerned about the pace of the economy, the pace of change, which is exactly why he continues to impress upon republicans in congress to move the jobs bill that's been languishing on their desks for the better part of a year. >> still, mitt romney has an advantage of six points, 44 to 38, over president obama on having better ideas to fix the economy. the president's lead over mitt romney is four points, 48-44. it's almost exactly on a parallel track as chuck todd was pointing out this morning, on george herbert walker bush versus bill clinton, which is not good for an incumbent president. >> i would say a couple things.
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i think that chuck is actually more right when he indicates that this election is more like the 2004 contest than the 1992 race. there are ways in which it's pretty clear looking at that poll, there are ways in which folks have the perception that mitt romney because of his private sector experience and because he's not been in washington, d.c., they have a sense he can move the lever in ways that the current administration has not. but when they get a sense of what exactly his experience was in the private economy, when he was outsourcing jobs in bain capital, when they begin to appreciate that in massachusetts, he was 47th out of 50th in job growth, and when they understand that he's not laid out any real plans for growing jobs in this economy, then certainly has not been addressing the bread and butter issues that working families care about right now, those numbers decline for him which is exactly why we enjoy a lead in that poll. >> paul ryan is filling the typical attack dog role of a
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vice presidential running mate. we have seen joe biden do it. this is ryan in western pennsylvania, carnegie, pennsylvania, which is exactly where, in 2008, president obama's whole comments about god and guns got him in trouble against hillary clinton. she won that primary. let's watch. >> remember this other time where he was caught on video saying people like to cling to their guns and their religion. hey, i'm a catholic deer hunter. i am happy to be clinging to my guns and my religion. >> about the matchup, paul ryan versus joe biden. >> i'll take that matchup any day of the week. i think that we've seen in past selections when the top of the ticket nominates someone to be the vice president, they automatically get a bump. we received a bump of about eight points with the selection of joe biden. even john mccain got a bump of nine points after he selected
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sarah palin. there's been absolutely no bump at all in any of the national polling or state-based polling for mitt romney as a consequence of selecting paul ryan, and in states like nevada, florida, pennsylvania, we're seeing that older voters are profoundly concerned about the medicare reductions that would result in vice president ryan. so we'll take that matchup any day of the week. i have to say, it's really easy to get up on a stage, puff out your chest and talk about guns and god and of course, we all know that barack obama is a devoutly spiritual person who cares about his country and his family and the need to protect the second amendment. right now, voters have to be concerned about the fact that that vice presidential nominee has been in close collaboration with people like congressman akin who are passing personhood amendments, trying to delineate between forced rape and other kinds of rape and who now find themselves trying to defend the
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indefensible when they have a party platform that makes no distinction between abortion in circumstances of rape and incest. i think that paul ryan can make these kinds of statements on the stage but he's got to sit down and really explain what he intends to do as a vice president as it relates to the health care of women in this country. last night i saw him in an interview, he looked like a cat in a ball of yarn trying not to answer the questions about these health care exclusions. >> vice presidential running mates, joe biden has not been without his problems as well on the trail but we have to leave it there. thanks very much. >> thank you. up next, as we were saying, politico's glenn thrush with what he didn't get to tell us on monday when the president walked into the briefing room in the middle of our interview. and still ahead, will isaac crash the party in tampa? first, paul ryan live at a campaign rally in raleigh, north carolina. >> now that we look back, we can see why it all happened. housing markets and fannie mae and freddie mac and all the
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stuff that happened. barney frank is another example. thank you for the suggestion, sir. you're going to get me off my track here, hang on. the point is, when that crisis hit us, it caught us all by surprise. trillions of dollars of wealth from families from retirements were vanished. millions of people out of work which we're still suffering from. let me ask you it this way. what if your president or your congressman or your senator, what if they saw it coming, what if they knew that that crash was coming, what if they knew why it was going to happen, what if they knew approximately when it was going to happen, and what if they knew how to prevent it from happening and they had the time to do that but they just decided not to because it wasn't good politics. people have doubts about taking aspirin for pain. but they haven't experienced
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back with us today, glenn thrush, politico senior white house reporter and author of the new ebook "obama's last stand." as we were saying, i just introduced you the other day and you were kind enough to come talk about the ebook and the president walked into the briefing room. i was about to ask you -- >> i'm used to that. >> your reporting about the obama white house and just how annoyed they were when joe biden went on "meet the press" and laid out his views about same sex marriage. >> i think they would have been less annoyed if there wasn't the perception inside the west wing that biden was sort of talking out of both sides of his mouth. in private, he had been counseling some of president obama's advisors against coming out in favor of gay marriage before the convention, even perhaps before the election, in order to spare the president problems in swing states. so there were real resentments, particularly from david plouffe, the president's senior advisor
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in the white house, about biden coming out and saying something different in public than what he had said in private. >> at the same time, his argument i assume would be you can't expect me to say something i don't believe. i'm asked a question by david gregory so he answered with his heartfelt view in favor of same sex marriage. >> well, that is true. >> talking tactics. >> there is also a certain sense in the white house that biden needs to play by the same rule book and there's a passage in the book in which the president meets with biden, very emotional meeting, i am told, in which biden sort of accuses incorrectly as it turns out, jim messina, campaign manager in chicago, of throwing him under the bus and obama throws an arm around the vice president and says look, we've got to be on the same page, people are looking to divide us, let's make sure that we're in coordination from now on. >> of course, your book came out just before this latest incident
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where the vice president clearly got into a moment and republicans accuse him of deliberately making a race-baiting appeal. he says -- they say he wasn't, he was simply trying to make the argument against what he says republicans would do in terms of deregulating wall street. >> you know, to a certain extent, i think the white house and obama's advisors in chicago are less concerned about some of these gaffes. there's a certain joe being joe quality about them. i think what was really unusual about that one is biden is essentially obama's ambassador to the white working class in these swing states and for him to say that goes against the script that he's going to need to stick closely to in order to win obama some of these independents in these states which is a very tough task. >> glenn thrush, thanks for coming back. "obama's last stand" is the ebook. two big storms headed to tampa. how will republicans clean up the damage from todd akin and potentially, a hurricane?
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and then treats day after day, block the acid with prilosec otc.. and don't get heartburn in the first place. [ male announcer ] one pill each morning. 24 hours. zero heartburn. with the mayor of tampa now warning that he is prepared to cancel the republican national convention if tropical storm isaac makes a direct hit for public safety reasons, let's get an update from the weather channel's hurricane specialist in atlanta. bryan, how serious is the threat that this is on track to head up the florida coast? >> well, the coincidence of the timing of the hurricane and the potential hurricane and the republican national convention are converging with each other. that doesn't mean that the worst of the storm is necessarily going to come there, but there are tough decisions to make for the republicans here in the next few days. let me show you where the tropical storm is right now. tropical storm isaac is here just east of the caribbean islands and it's moving on off
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to the west with 45 mile an hour winds. here you see it entering the caribbean today. it's not a very strong system but it's a large system, occupying the entire eastern part of the caribbean. now, here's that track moving with the center south of puerto rico but heavy rains moving over the island there and then potential significant flooding over haiti and the dominican republic as the storm goes by there, and it reaches hurricane intensity. the thinking is late tomorrow or early on friday. and then up toward florida, now, it's gone over those big islands by the time it gets to florida, but any track up here right along the west coast or just offshore of the west coast or even because of the big circulation, a good ways off the west coast would be a threat to flooding in the tampa bay area right there. so it's certainly a possibility of an effect, a significant effect and a dangerous effect in tampa about the time of the convention. andrea? >> i was hoping you would tell me otherwise but thanks for the update. thanks for the graphics. i think. thanks, bryan.
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now to nbc's ron mott. you saw the weather. he's with the ryan campaign in raleigh, north carolina, where it is probably much better, you're indoors. we've got hurricane todd akin also heading to tampa. what did ryan have to say today on the plane? we showed a little of it earlier. you got a chance to talk to him. >> reporter: good day to you. he didn't really say much. he talked to representative akin on monday, he said he would not divulge the specifics of that conversation. suffice it to say he joins a lot of folks in the missouri contingent looking to get todd akin to step away from the senate race. as you mentioned, todd akin could be a storm along with this hurricane/tropical storm in tampa in five days when the republican national convention gets under way on monday. what they would much rather talk about, what congressman ryan would much rather talk about is what he's talking about right now and that is the economy. some of these side issues, some of the social issues tend to get in way from time to time, and certainly it's the case in the primary season.
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it looks like that may be the case or at least the near future here with the akin comments and paul ryan's collaboration with him, if you will, on h.r. 3, the bill that passed the house about limiting abortion in almost all cases, trying to define the term forcible rape. he was asked again about that on the plane today. he simply said rape is rape, end of story, andrea. >> ron mott. of course, it's never the end of the story because it's still going on. we should point out todd akin has also taken to social media. he's railing against the so-called liberal elites and the party bosses for pressuring him to get out of the race on twitter as well, and raising money on twitter, and of course, it's not the liberal elites who are telling him to get out. it is every republican that's involved in the political party as well as conservative talk show hosts have been suggesting that to him. thanks very much. ron mott traveling with paul ryan. the todd akin problem is the political equivalent of a
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tropical storm, threatening to derail next week's republican convention. more on that, mark mckinnon, contributor to the daily beast and former advisor to president bush 43 and the vice-chair of hill and noten joining us from new york. this story is not going away. tell me from the perspective, if you can take off one hat, put on another, you're back planning for a republican convention, planning for george w. bush's convention, and you're facing this kind of story dividing the republican party which have just finally come together after the primary season. what's the impact? >> well, it's potentially huge. the problem is obviously the story itself but what makes it particularly problematic is the timing. this is the opportunity when republicans have to get the attention of a lot of middle america, lot of independent voters, lot of persuadable voters, and the idea is to show
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a big tent, to show a lot of tolerance and diversity and to reach out to women and hispanics and coalitions that republicans need in order to win a majority and win the presidency. so it puts a focus on todd akin, puts a focus on the republican platform on abortion which normally people wouldn't pay much attention to. it also brings attention to paul ryan's record on these issues and mitt romney's as well. so all together, it's putting a big spotlight exactly where republicans don't want it right now. a big distraction. >> as you point out, they're not talking about the economy but the other thing is the gambit, the bet on paul ryan, which was a bet that talking about the deficit, talking about medicare, was a good thing, not a bad thing. not a third rail as traditionally we've thought of entitlements being a third rail. take a look at the nbc news/"wall street journal" poll at these numbers. good idea to change medicare to a premium support program or a voucher program? good idea, 15%.
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bad idea, 30%. no opinion, 51%. so is this an opportunity still there for the romney/ryan campaign to try to sell this medicare idea? >> absolutely. that's why people like me are excited about paul ryan. i think it's a bold but risky move that's got potential consequences if the republicans can take this opportunity to explain what their approach is on medicare, explain what the approach on the budget is. but that's part of what the convention is going to be an opportunity to do. hopefully we can shut down the akin discussion and get on to discussions about framing what the republican plan is to save medicare because if we don't do anything, we will end medicare as we know it. >> the other thing, is there is a ten point gender gap between mitt romney and barack obama. women favoring obama. now, at this stage, this whole argument about abortion and in particular, the views of so-called legitimate rape which
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todd akin has apologized for, but he has not completely disavowed all of the theories. we know john willke was also an advisor and a principal surrogate according to his own press reliease in 2007-2008. >> yeah. well, the problem is we look at somebody like todd akin, a lot of republicans do, and say it's unfortunate he won that primary in the first place. we don't need people who think like that representing the republican party. it's very tough for people like me, pro-choice republicans, and it's an admittedly not a large caucus but when i have to see a story like todd akin, then turn to my wife and daughter who look at me and say really, these are the kind of people you are associating with? >> is it fair or not fair -- >> that's a problem. the gender gap which is ten points -- [ speaking simultaneously ] >> typically, republicans do better with men anyway and democrats do better with women. but we can't afford to have that margin be much greater than it is right now. >> do you think it's fair or not
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fair to connect these views with mitt romney since he did embrace them back in 2007-2008, last time he ran? >> absolutely it's fair. that's what politics is all about. that's what running for president is all about. these candidates have records and they have to stand up and defend them, and so i mean, in some ways, the romney -- i'm glad to see they have come out now on this and defend exceptions, apart from the platform. that's a good thing. now, it's not entirely consistent with their record but i'm glad to see where they've landed. >> mark, thank you very much. up next, justice scalia. a rare peek behind the curtain of the supreme court. pete williams coming next. [ female announcer ] the power of green coffee extract is now in our new starbucks refreshers™ -- a breakthrough in natural energy.
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insuring that stuff must be a pain. nah, he's probably got... [ dennis' voice ] allstate.
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they can bundle all your policies together. lot of paperwork. [ doug's voice ] actually... [ dennis' voice ] an allstate agent can help do the switching and paperwork for you. well, it probably costs a lot. [ dennis' voice ] allstate can save you up to 30% more when you bundle. well, his dog's stupid. [ dennis' voice ] poodles are one of the world's smartest breeds. ♪ bundle and save with an allstate agent. are you in good hands? antonin scalia is the longest serving justice on the supreme court. by the way, you're looking at mitt romney, forgive me, in iowa attending a rally right now. we have a rare interview with the longest serving justice of
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the supreme court. justice scalia sat down with our justice correspondent, pete williams. the justice is out with a new book, "reading the law, the interpretation of legal texts." pete, this is fascinating stuff because he doesn't often sit down for an interview at all, and he's a very lively, outspoken justice and that's the way he was with you. >> he was. he was in a very good mood. i think he's feeling good about where the court is right now, where things are headed next term. what we talked about mostly is what's in the book which is how he approaches judging, decideing the difficult legal questions and basically he says he thinks many judges do it wrong. here's what he said. >> you describe yourself as a textualist. what is one? >> a textualist is someone who believes that legal provisions
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in the constitution or in a statute are to be determined on the basis of the fairest meaning of the text, not by use of such extrinsic factors as is what is the general purpose of the statute or what did the senate committee say when the statute was enacted, but rather, just taking the words which is the only thing that had the assent of both houses of congress and of the president or of the people, if it's a constitutional provision, and giving those words their fairest meaning. >> what is wrong with basically reaching for any help that you can get in understanding the language? >> well, that's the temptation, especially when judges use legislative history, you know. there's a sentence in a committee report which says section 323b little i means thus and so. nobody read that. the congress didn't read that
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when it voted on the matter. but the temptation when you say my goodness, that's the very issue we have before us and there it is, somebody has thought about this. to be sure, it's some teenager who was on the committee staff, but still and all, the temptation to use that is enormous. you will see recited in opinions all the way back the object of interpretation is to determine the intent of the drafter. i don't believe that. we're not governed by the drafter's intent. we're governed by laws and what the law is is not what the drafter intended, but what the drafter enacted. and so, you know, i wouldn't look to the committee reports. >> you say in the book that it's a slander to say that textualism is a device calculated to produce conservative outcomes. >> it often produces very liberal results.
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i ought to be the pinup of the criminal defense bar because i have written some opinions vindicating the right to trial by jury and vindicating the right to confrontation of witnesses which, you know, i'm a law and order conservative socially and i i wouldn't come if i were a king, i suppose. but that's not my job. >> can you explain that line of cases? >> yeah, you have to understand the background. both the federal government and many of the states began adopting so-called sentencing factors where the punishment for a crime would be x, however, if the judge found that the crime was committed with a firearm, you get five more years or ten more years or another factor, if there was excessive cruelty, it
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added ten years and it was a judge that would find it, not a jury. and what we held was that no, the right to trial by jury doesn't mean anything unless it means that any fact which causes you to spend an additional time in jail has to be found by the jury. and has to be found beyond a reasonable doubt. that's a -- an originalist meaning of what trial by jury meant. if it didn't mean that all the essential facts that your sentence had to be found by the jury, it didn't mean anything at all. >> and what did he have to say about all of the reports that justice roberts changed his opinion on the big decision on health care? >> he says he's surprised that people believe it. he says it's either somebody who didn't know what they were talking about or someone betraying a confidence in which case they shouldn't be trusted. but he also said that he himself has changed his mind while
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writing a decision that he started out to write the majority decision one way and decided halfway through the process that wasn't the right outcome and changed his mind and was able to persuade his colleagues that was the right thing to do. >> he's a very persuasive guy inside the court indeed. hank you very much for this very interesting look at the supreme court. what political story will make headlines in the next 24 hours? that's next right here, "andrea mitchell reports." people have doubts about taking aspirin for pain. but they haven't experienced extra strength bayer advanced aspirin. in fact, in a recent survey, 95% of people who tried it agreed that it relieved their headache fast. visit today for a special trial offer.
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>> and as we continue to watch mitt romney in betten dorf, iowa, which political story will make headlines in the next 24 hours? jonathan capehart joins me from the "washington post." i think we're still going to be talking about todd akin. >> yep, the congressman from missouri trying to unseat incumbent senator claire mccaskill. he did the morning television shows today. did the "today" show defiant if all interviews still saying he's
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in the race, not getting out. >> jonathan capehart. we've seen also he's taken to twitter and he's appealing for money, as well. more on that to come. thanks so much. that does it for us for this edition of andrea mitchell reports. tamron hall has a look what's next on "news nation." >> coming up in our next hour it, new words from paul ryan defending his pro-life record, also what he says about the conversation he had with congressman todd akin. we'll be joined by the director of the super pack linked by karl rove. they have pulled their money and support from akin. what they are saying today. we'll take a look at our brand new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll and why our team says it looks like a poll we would see in october rather than august. what does that mean? next on "news nation." ♪
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